Wednesday, October 28, 2009


At Saturday’s Cobble Hill Book Swamp, I traded in a paperback copy of Svevo’s Confessions of Zeno, which I’d found on the street and never read, for a hardback of Moby Dick. I already have a couple of editions of Melville's masterwork, but you can never have enough. This one was published by the Literary Guild in 1949 and illustrated by Anton Otto Fischer. Later in the day, it being a damp and drizzly October of the soul, I read aloud the first chapter to an appreciative audience of one. When I was done, I thought, well that’s not right; where's the part about the men pulled to the shores of Manhattan to gaze off longingly to the sea? I know that first chapter and this one was missing something. Luckily, OHS had a Penguin Classics paperback copy of it handy (after all, I am dating her). Sure enough, three full paragraphs were missing. Those bastards! Turns out the Literary Guild of America, Inc., was one of those national book clubs that have their own editions, making works palatable for the cud-chewers. There is no indication in the book that it's abridged, however. Anyway, now I'll have no qualms about trashing the book for the illustrations.

"[...] in this world, head winds are far more prevalent than winds from astern (that is, if you never violate the Pythagorean maxim)[...]"

1 comment:

YourFireAnt said...

This is a wonderful story. I love that you'll have no qualms wrecking the book for its pictures. ;-)